Mentors make the difference

January is National Mentoring Month, and for good reason: mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic prospects. Young adults who had mentors are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college, more than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team and 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

Unfortunately, not everyone who needs a mentor has one: 1 in 3 young people feel isolated from meaningful connections with adults outside their homes. We’re working to change that statistic in Cleveland by connecting youth with a caring network of school and community resources to help them realize their strengths, develop goals and keep them on the path to a fulfilling future.

This fall, we launched a new program linking Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) 8th graders with a mentor to guide career exploration and personal development. Over the next three years, the goal is to link every CMSD 8th grader with a mentor. The program is called True2U, a partnership between CMSD, the Cleveland Foundation’s MyCom initiative, Greater Cleveland Partnership and many others. Through the True2U program, mentors from the business community across Greater Cleveland will help serve 2,500 students in 68 CMSD schools by the 2017-2018 school year.

Why should career exploration begin in 8th grade? Students are at the highest risk of dropping out between 8th and 10th grade. It’s also a time when students should begin to think about career interests as they explore issues of personal identity and discover unique skills. With CMSD’s new model, 8th grade is a time for students to think about the high school that best matches their needs and interests. A caring adult mentor can help students navigate this crucial time.

So this National Mentoring Month and throughout the year, we’re asking you to reflect on the importance of mentorship. Did you have a mentor who positively influenced your life? Could you be a mentor to a youth in Greater Cleveland? If you’re interested in being a mentor with the True2U program for the 2017-2018 year, contact Greater Cleveland Partnership: You can also learn more about our support for education and youth development by visiting the Cleveland Yearbook: